Days of Grace: Meditations and Practices for Living with Illness by Mary C. Earle. 

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Day One

You Will Show Me

Written By Mary C. Earle

Practice Note

Meditation: <listen>

You will show me the path of life.
Psalm 16:11

If you are reading this meditation, in all probability you are learning to live with illness.  Your illness may be chronic or progressive or terminal. In any case, you are entering a school of experience for which our culture offers little wisdom. You are seeking to find a way to live with the stresses and the discomforts of a body that is somehow weakened. You are trying to live within new limitations. You are also coming face to face with the fact of your own mortality.

The wisdom tradition of scripture tells us that this kind of experience, as harsh and painful as it may be, also offers us the opportunity to come to terms with reality. We begin to remember that we are creatures.  We begin to recognize that our lives are fragile and that our bodies can suffer from many different maladies.  We begin to reorient and reframe our lives within a new context—a context of difficult days and unexpected physical disruption. And we may begin to ask deeper questions about meaning and about life, about death and about eternity. When we ask those questions, we are beginning to take the first steps on a path of life. We are beginning to live at a deeper level, though it may not be the path we would have chosen.

Gracious God, in whom I live and move and have my being, as I learn to live with this illness, may I be open to your presence and mercy. Amen.

Practice: <listen>

  1. Write down questions that have arisen for you as a result of living with illness.

  2. Be honest.  No one else will read these.
    Choose one question to hold quietly in prayer. Write the question on a piece of paper. Place the paper in your hands, held together in a receptive gesture.
    Offer the question in prayer, saying “I offer this question to You in love, O God,” or use a prayer of your own.

  3. Continue with this practice as you are led. There’s no need to rush.

  4. Make note of what occurs to you as you sit with the question. You might become aware of your own feelings or memories, uncertainties or frustrations.

  5. Gently allow yourself to receive what comes to your notice.

  6. Bring the practice to a close with a simple prayer of thanksgiving.

REFERENCE NOTE: All psalms are from the psalter in The Book of Common Prayer, 1979.